He who knows others is wise. He who knows himself is enlightened. ~Lao Tzu
I worked with a woman who struggled to create a close relationship with her partner. She grew up with a single mom and little contact with her father. She felt neglected and alone as a child. She vowed that as an adult, she would have the family she longed for. She knew what she wanted, she could envision the relationship she desired with her husband, and yet, she could not seem to create it. She felt disconnected and lonely.
Our work together took her through her early experiences and the mistaken beliefs she internalized as a child about herself and others. She learnt in her family of origin that relying on others is risky. She became versed in hiding her feelings to keep from being a burden. These beliefs and skills insured her emotional survival as a child. As an adult they kept her from connecting to her husband.
When she began to understand these mistaken beliefs and where they came from, her life began to change. Rather than simply reacting, she began to question her thoughts, feelings and behaviors. She became intentional.
When we understand our mistaken beliefs, we take back our power. We begin to understand that we can choose to question the script that runs through our minds and in doing so change the way we interact with ourselves and others.
There are many ways to get to know yourself better. If time is an issue, try setting aside just a few minutes each day to work on one of the following suggestions. Start with the one that resonates most with you.
- Write your life story as a fairy tale with yourself as the hero/heroine.
- Create a collage. Gather old magazines and a large piece of paper, cut out whatever appeals to you and attach to your paper. Journal about what you picked and why.
- Write a letter to your younger self.
- Create a timeline of your life.
- Record your dreams.
- Write down what you value most in your life and why: examples could include autonomy, independence, relationships/family, health/wellness, physical attractiveness, helping others, creating, financial security, travel
- Meditate. Leo Babauta of Zen Habits offers a great guide to getting started here.
- Consider the types of stories (art, books, blogs, shows, music) you are drawn to. What about them appeals to you?
- Therapy can be an important part of the process if you are feeling stuck or unsure of how to create what you want in your life. You can learn more about finding the right therapist for you here.
*Sometimes exploring who you are brings up painful memories of trauma or abuse. If this happens to you, it can be overwhelming. You may require help to get through it. Look to a therapist, spiritual adviser or other trusted professional for help.
Let today be the beginning of your journey. I would love to hear from you. Music can be an especially powerful link to the unconscious. What kind of music do you really connect with? What feelings come up when you listen?